Mental Flotsam, Mental Jetsam

Because the only thing that beats going crazy is going crazy with somebody else

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Jose', Can You See...


This is something that's been popping up recently: Our National Anthem is being sung in Spanish. Not a verbatim translation, but Nuestro Himno.

A friend of mine forwarded me a passionate email which boils down to "If you're going to live here, learn the language." I agree that it makes sense to adopt the local lingo, but I'm also well aware that if Americans actually cleaved to this rote, we'd all be speaking the language of Chief Powhatan.

Every time I walk into a Bank of America, I note the signs for various promotions sitting side-by-side with Spanish ones. This isn't a bad thing.

I think that folks who get overzealous about The Star-Spangled Banner should pause to reflect that it was written to the tune of a drinking song. From Great Britain. There are other things more worthy of patriotic vitriol, in my opinion.

My dad and I are planning to see a ballgame on Sunday. I plan to sing the anthem in English; but if they play the song twice to accomodate Spanish fans of the great American pasttime as well, I personally won't take offense.

We've got bigger things to worry about, mi amigo.

1 Comments:

  • At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Tommy said…

    Great post. I especially like this line--

    "I agree that it makes sense to adopt the local lingo, but I'm also well aware that if Americans actually cleaved to this rote, we'd all be speaking the language of Chief Powhatan."

    My thoughts exactly, and I've used this line before when confronting English-only fanatics who whine about how those "greasers" should be learning the local language. Why aren't we all speaking Powhatan, Creek and Cherokee, then?

    FWIW, an old friend of mine with some legal scholar training framed the issue for me perfectly-- Spanish, like the native language of Hawaii, is unusual under the law in that it has equal status to English in particular in the Floridian mainland and islands (stretching from the annexation stipulations when Andrew Jackson negotiated the cession) and, of course, in Texas and the US Southwestern states, including in California. Spanish was considered native to the territories and not just an immigrant tongue, and as such, it got special support under the law.

    The US seized these territories from Mexico during the Mexican War, and to incorporate the population and ensure some semblance of harmony there, there were a variety of mutual agreements giving special status to Spanish, along with other cultural protections. Those stipulations apply today just as they did centuries before. So whenever anybody from a nativist group goes nuts about those Spanish signs in Wal-Mart, just let them know that such a special status for Spanish was made essential when the US armies descended on Mexico City!

    BTW I agree with you on any case, I don't see why anybody makes an issue of this. We have far more important things to be worrying about!

     

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